Africa:W.H.O.’s Digital Health Delivers Speedy Services in Isolated Areas

While the W.H.O looks to partner with different sectors to improve the healthcare system in the continent, it’s also invested in advancing digital health, through eHealth. Image courtesy: W.H.O.

While the W.H.O looks to partner with different sectors to improve the healthcare system in the continent, it’s also invested in advancing digital health, through eHealth. Image courtesy: W.H.O.

In this ever-changing world, where technology combines with efficiency to create opportunities that can improve the way we “do things” – many governments and organisations are attempting to keep pace.

The World Health Organisation Africa Health Forum is a meet-up with some of the leading experts in the health industry to try and address these current challenges, and to work out the unique opportunities that utilising technology can bring.

Our business team partners are currently in Rwanda to find out more about the Forum, and to talk to some of Africa’s health pioneers on the new concepts in place to help revolutionise the industry on the continent:

Business Correspondent Hlonela Lupuwana in Kigali, Rwanda

One of many challenges with healthcare service delivery in Africa is infrastructure. Scores of people in isolated areas struggle to fully access hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. When they do, some of those medical institutions aren’t equipped with enough medication, doctors and nurses due to financial constraints.

While the World Health Organisation (W.H.O) looks to partner with different sectors to improve the healthcare system in the continent, it’s also invested in advancing digital health, through eHealth (Electronic health). The programme is particularly advantageous to people living in rural, isolated areas as well as understaffed hospitals.

The W.H.O. describes eHealth as a cost-effective programme that provides health services and information using mobile technology. Under that umbrella is mobile health (mHealth), health information technology (I.T.), and wearable devices among others. The organisation says that digital health reduces inefficiency, improves accessibility and reduces costs.

Speaking at the first World Health Organisation Africa Health Forum in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, Dr Delanyo Dovlo made an example about training volunteers, community members, who often have to step in during an outbreak, through video calling. In such cases, a doctor who cannot reach a remote hospital due to logistical reasons, is able to use video calling to train staff or talk them through a particular medical procedure. Dr Dovlo said this platform also helps manage and track patients’ medical information.

Another example of digital health at work is the Zipline drone company that delivers blood to remote areas using drones in rural parts of Rwanda. The project was launched in 2016 and is the world’s first national drone delivery service.

The W.H.O hopes to form more partnerships with Information and Communication Technology companies in order to help achieve universal health coverage in the African region.
World Health Organisation Africa Health Forum

W.H.O.’s Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) convened the first ever Africa Health Forum in Kigali, Rwanda on 27 – 28 June 2017 to highlight the importance of addressing the challenges and opportunities for effective health service delivery and policy priorities.

Under the theme of “Putting People First: The Road to Universal Health Coverage in Africa”, the two-day event deliberated on improving health security, progress towards equity and Universal Health Coverage (U.H.C.), and the unfinished agenda of communicable diseases while exploring the new Sustainable Development Goal (S.D.G.) targets, and tackling social and economic determinants of health on our continent.

The Africa Health Forum stood as a unique opportunity to strengthen collaboration between W.H.O. and its stakeholders on Africa’s health agenda. Specifically, it facilitated engagement with all partners to kick-start exciting new partnerships for improving the health of the African people.

By Oliver Jarvis

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